A long, intense birding weekend

New York City was having a very dismal migration season until late last week when the winds changed and new species arrived by the dozen. The four day period May 1 to 4 was the most productive I have ever had other than at the very start of the year. I added 32 birds to my year list, a phenomenal number that shot me well ahead of any previous year for the date. On May 2 alone I added 14 species, a one-day (non-January) personal record.


Thursday, May 1 — Veery, Wood Thrush, Orchard Oriole, Blue-winged Warbler, Worm-eating Warbler;

Friday, May 2 — Great Crested Flycatcher, Eastern Kingbird, Yellow-throated Vireo, White-crowned Sparrow, Rose-breasted Grosbeak, Indigo Bunting;

Saturday, May 3 — Black-billed Cuckoo, Ruby-throated Hummingbird, Lincoln’s Sparrow, Summer Tanager;

Sunday, May 4 — White-eyed VireoCape May Warbler, Blackburnian Warbler, Prothonotary Warbler, Kentucky Warbler.

May 2 was the day that ace birder Lenore Swenson gave another Starr Saphir Memorial Bird Walk in the Ramble, the results of which you can see here. Her walk definitely helped add to my total. Just as last year, the walk occurred on the best migration day of the season up to that point.

Today, May 4, had some unusual opportunities. A Prothonotary Warbler (male) had been found late in the afternoon the day before by Gabriel Willow at Madison Square Park. Since I am not doing another full-effort big year, I did not chase it then, though a few people did. When it was confirmed to still be at the park this morning, and after I got two other very good warblers, I decided it was worth a quick trip. I arrived at 3:30 p.m. and within five minutes I found it high in the trees just west of the ShakeShack.

I wasted no time in returning home to eat and rest. I had been running and walking around Central Park for four days, as much as eight hours per day, and my legs were sore. I just wanted to lie in bed.

At 5:35 p.m. an alert chimed in with the report of a Kentucky Warbler in the Evodia Field area. I already had my running clothes on, so I bolted out of bed, grabbed my binoculars, and set off running. There already were six birders on the scene when I arrived, and it took only a couple minutes for the Kentucky to pop out again and then quickly disappear. It ended up flying a bit, with people following it to the other side of the field (the one immediately east of Evodia, where the feeders are) and back. Then it appeared again, moving on the ground, and we got excellent views.

I wanted to take full advantage of some great days for Central Park birding, because the previous year has shown that these days may be few. I admit that I also like the challenge of finding a wide variety of species, even if I am not going to chase every rarity all over town as I did in 2012.

I finish the long weekend with 156 birds for the year in Manhattan.